They entered the realm of legend and restored pride to a nation in crisis: the Spanish press Monday lavished praise on their team’s history-making victory in the Euro 2012 final.
“Spain and no-one else,” cried the front page of the biggest-selling sports daily Marca, above a photo of the cheering team with captainIker Casillas holding the trophy aloft after a 4-0 destruction of Italy.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said its online edition.
Papers brimmed with pride over Spain taking a third straight international title, after winning the Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 — a feat never before accomplished.
“The Spanish team scored with ease over Italy in the Euro final and left the footballing continent at its feet, completing an historic triple,” La Marca glowed.
Conservative daily El Mundo’s home page declared the team “Champions of Legend”.
“Football as an opiate of the people in suffocating times. Football as a metaphor of the courage of collective effort and the definitive loss of those complexes that hobble dreams,” the paper said.
“A handful of sportsmen without equal, moulded from a winning gene and led by a coach of firm convictions … showed in the Kiev Olympic Stadium that Spain, too, can be an example,” it said.
ABC, a fellow conservative paper, said the victory united a nation of 17 separate regions.
“A sporting competition is enough to spontaneously invoke that sense of pride in belonging to a common people and history, a way of being,” it said in an editorial.
“It is a pity that Spaniards do not come together more often and work together to confront formidable challenges like the economic crisis.”
Leading daily El Pais said the win would go down in history.
“This is not just the best generation of Spanish footballers but probably the best in Europe in the history of competitive football,” El Pais said in an editorial.
The nation’s third consecutive title backed up the assertion, the paper crowed.
“Spain was overwhelming in the championship final with a football of high class, almost operatic, in terms of talent, precision and calm which has only been seen before in the Brazil team of 1970,” it said.
Success on the field gave succour to a nation in crisis, it said, with the economy in recession, the jobless rate at 24.4 percent, and stricken banks struggling to stay afloat.
“Spain’s footballing successes give indirect relief, if only ephemeral, to the destructive consequences of recession and unemployment from which the Spanish people are suffering,” El Pais said.
“Football is not a substitute for good political management nor for economic prosperity, not should we ask it to be, but it can inject a dose of self-esteem in difficult times,” the paper said.
“There are many reasons to claim this self-esteem.
“The Spanish team has cobbled together the world’s most brilliant football with good behaviour on and off the field, with a clean game and great respect to its adversaries.
“It is not just professional talent: the Spanish footballers have been an example of sportsmanship.”